The six governors from the South-south geopolitical zone and other important personalities from the Niger Delta region have expressed their angst at the Presidency for failing to attend a major stakeholders’ meeting scheduled in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday.
It was gathered that the meeting was convened at the instance of the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, to discuss the emerging threats to the peace in the Niger Delta region.
A source and aide to one of the governors said the meeting was arranged days before Tuesday and wondered why the Presidency chose to treat such crucial gathering with levity.
The aide, who spoke in confidence, said all the six governors from the zone were already in Government House, Port Harcourt, when they got a shocker that the conveners of the meeting could no longer be in attendance.
He described the mood at the government house as that of indignation and embarrassment adding that all the stakeholders felt disgraced by the attitude of the Presidency.
He said: “Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Rivers host Governor, Nyesom Wike, Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Ben Ayade (Cross River), in fact all the governors from the South-south are currently in Government House, Port Harcourt for this meeting.
“Even our traditional Rulers led by King Alfred Diette Spiff, the President of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, Timothy Igbifa, Ledum Mittee and Ankio Briggs among other prominent leaders of the Niger Delta that left everything they were doing to attend this meeting.
“You need to see the anger, the frustration, disappointment and embarrassment in the faces of these leaders. On the eve of the meeting, the governors met, held a discussion to present a common front to the Presidency. They also mobilised everybody that was supposed to be in the meeting and brought them to Port Harcourt.
“This meeting was called off few hours to the time. They gave the excuse that President Muhammadu Buhari was holding a security meeting and the Inspector-General of Police would not be coming. They said Gambari and other presidential officials were encumbered by the security meeting.
“But it sounds funny. They sounded as if it was not the Presidency that scheduled to meet the Niger Delta leaders on Tuesday. Why would they schedule another meeting on a day they are supposed to meet with the Niger Delta leaders? Something is fishy”.
The source said the people of the region demanded a public apology from the Presidency for cancelling the meeting few hours before the scheduled time.
He quoted Okowa, who is the Chairman of the South-South Governor’s forum as describing the cancellation as a disgrace, embarrassment and disrespect to the people of the region.
Okowa said the governors would communicate the decision of the people to the presidency.
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